When I signed up for the “Couples Caper” race in 2003, the registration form described the race as a 4K, with one member of the “couple” running 2K and the other member completing the last 2K of the race. It also stated that if you did not have a partner, attempts would be made to find you one. I checked the box, knowing that as partners go, I was not that much of a “catch.” Since the race results were based on the combined time of both partners, whoever got partnered with me would have a whole lot of fast running to do in order to make up for my slowness.
Fred and Margarete Deckert coordinated this race, and must have figured out that I was participating in the Springtime 10K training group and would know Jimmy Kalfas, who was a volunteer helping with the group. At some point before the race, I was told, “your partner will probably be Jimmy Kalfas.” The day of the race I learned that was the case. Lucky me.
When I started the Springtime 10K training group in January 2003, I had a whole lot of ground to cover (literally and figuratively). As I coped with the dark and cold nights, more often than not I discovered that I had company in the person of Jimmy Kalfas. We didn’t talk about anything earth shattering. I mainly recall hearing about his athletic endeavors, his family, and his struggles with injury. I mainly remember talking about my kids (surprise). There was one night when I felt disheartened because I had not run at all in the week between training sessions, and we were running four miles that night. We runners all help each other out during times of motivational drought, but the way Jimmy handled that was perfect. It was empathetic but there was still a little hint of butt-kick in his response, which essentially was, “you just have to put what you have not done in the past and get back to it.”
Jimmy and I fell out of touch after 2003. I fell out of running, and I think he pursued some different directions. I sure was happy to see him pop up on Facebook a few months ago. We exchanged a few “catching up” messages, and life kept speeding along in that accelerated way it seems to have taken on.
I was shocked to hear of his death last week at the age of 59, when Mike Weyant posted a comment about it on Facebook and the offical confirmation followed in the form of newspaper articles and an obituary. I can’t make sense of his death at such a young age, in such unclear circumstances. I can only imagine the depths of despair that his companion, Connie, and family members must feel.
Of all the various lyrics I have stockpiled over the years to speak to various situations, nothing in my arsenal really was fitting for a tribute to Jimmy. As far as tributes go, I suspect he’d rather have a beautiful, breezy day on the golf course for his pals, or a perfect transition for his triathlete friends, or a personal record run by someone he has supported.
The closest I have come is a song I heard for the first time last week, “One Life to Love” by 33 Miles.
When I listened to an interview with 33 Miles, the group that performs “One Life to Love,” they talked about how they want to convey with this song the urgency in “being intentional with the time we’ve been given.”
The song tells a couple of stories, one about an older man who realizes on his deathbed that he spent too much time at work and not enough time sharing himself with the people in his life. The other was about a young mother who thought “the sun had set on her big plans to feel young again” and walked away from a set of “little hands that held on tight the day she left.”
When I look back on the part Jimmy played in my life, and what I know about the role he played in others’ lives, I am not at all worried about him being unintentional with his life or failing to treat time with the people in his life as something of equivalent importance to material possessions.
The song “One Life to Love” ends with these lyrics:
One day when it’s all said and done
I hope you see that it was enough, this
One life ….to love.
Thank you, Jimmy, for making so much out of your “one life.” In doing so you gave us all an experience that was more than “enough.”